This Wednesday's episode of "Survivor: Caramoan" was explosive, to say the least. Brandon Hantz went off the handle, leading to his tribe of Favorites deciding to throw the Immunity Challenge in order to vote him off immediately. The challenge never happened, when Jeff Probst called an emergency Tribal Council, which led to Brandon's unanimous vote.
It was one of the most heated, tense and uncomfortable episodes in Survivor - and maybe reality TV - history. Brandon had been a very loyal player his first time out in South Pacific, but did show signs of mental instability as well as a streak of unpredictability. This time out, he vowed to play a different game, and boy did he.
Blaming Phillip as the cause of his anger, he decided to dump out the tribe rice and beans before storming off to the planned Immunity Challenge. At the challenge, Probst gave him a pretty good massage as he tried to calm Brandon down. Many thought that the war of words between Brandon and Phillip may have led to a physical confrontation, but luckily Probst's handling of the situation diverted anything worse from happening.
Knowing what we know of Brandon then, it should come as no surprise that my interview with him was a bit bizarre. He seemed at times remorseful but overall proud of his outburst and how he carried himself on the show. He explained with no regrets his decision to dump out the tribe rice. And wouldn't you know, he is already pushing to come back and play Survivor for a third time, if he can play opposite his Uncle Russell.
It's one heck of an interview, and here it is. Take this, his first one or two responses, in which he covers all kinds of ground before finally pausing for additional questions:
Now that the show has aired, what do you want people to know about what happened?
Brandon Hantz: I liked it. Really, questions are what I'm better at. I really don't people to know anything but that. You know, obviously Phillip was annoying and he did stuff that was over the top and not necessary but I think people kind of already understand that. I don't think people need clarification on how annoying he was. He got aggressive first. Now that's no excuse for what I did, but I mean, it's clear as crystal. He said straight up that he's a street fighter. And I wasn't even thinking about getting physical, it wasn't even a question. He thought about it before I did, and I don't think he was prepared to do what he said he was going to do if I ever got aggressive with him (laughs). It kind of backfired on him a little bit.
The anger you were feeling, how much of that was connected to your first Survivor experience?
About 90% of it really. Phillip really got what I had wanted to do to Coach, with my aggression. It was really a lot of bitterness towards last season. It was hard. But I grew up, you know, you have to take the good with the bad. But my second Survivor experience all around...my edit was amazing. It was all accurate the first and second time. It was so amazing the way that I let so much get to me the first time. And it's so not that big of a deal. People are going to like you or dislike you whether you play Survivor or not. It's just on a larger scope. So I had to grow up a little bit. Me and my wife, we enjoy this. She said, baby, if you ever get the chance to go play again, you better bring home the million dollars. That's her attitude. This to me, it wasn't worth it in the beginning. But even our separation, it got us closer together. I honestly can thank Survivor for doing that. I mean, it caused a lot of drama and it caused a lot of changes in me to occur. A lot of things went to my head after the first season and I allowed it to get into my marriage. I wouldn't have realized how much I love her now, if we hadn't separated. So I'm taking the good, it's just both of us really appreciate the whole experience. There's so much good and positive stuff that has come from it. As far as Phillip is concerned, everything I say about him is going to be Survivor related, nothing is going to be personal. There's no vendetta, there's no bitterness towards Phillip. It's literally been about a year, I'm always growing, always changing. We're not children, it's a game. Everything for me is going to stay a game, from here on out. I want an opportunity to compete against my Uncle Russell. That's what I want. He is proud, finally, of the way I played the game. He's never been more proud he said. We're good friends now. We realized we're a lot more alike than we thought. We're like each other in a lot of ways. There's a love and respect there and we're competitive, and it will be no holds barred. If I get the chance to play again, my stipulation is that I get to compete against my Uncle.
So do you have any regrets at all?
No, I'll be honest with you. Everything happens for a reason. It's just the way that I am. Everything that I did was true feelings, true emotions. I could have done things better, but as far as regrets, no. I enjoyed it. I didn't throw the game. A lot of people equate what I did with quitting. As you can see, if everyone paid attention, I was up against a wall. I didn't have a choice. I did have a choice in the fact that I could have just ate it and went out like what you would call a "gentleman." But if you take away my chance at a million dollars? Ain't no rice and beans going to be on that island. That's just the plain and simple. I tried to be a gentleman with Coach and it didn't work for me. I fell on my sword. I learned my lesson. I realized I was too nice the first time, I was too aggressive the second time, the third time, it might be a happy medium and you may see me win a million dollars! (laughs)
Did you ever consider asking Jeff to switch tribes to the Fans?
No but that's a good idea though. Me and Russell did talk about a few different things. I wish that I could have just competed in the challenge by myself. To kind of stick it to them. But you're in the moment, you don't think like that. You're sick, you're starving, you're cold. You have to keep it in perspective watching from your TV.
You had been trying to check yourself out there prior to the big blow-up at camp. Was there a specific thing that put you over the edge or was it a series of things?
It was more than just Phillip, man. I can't blame it all on Phillip. It was last season too. It was Phillip. It was me and my wife. We had just gotten back together for 2 months, we had been separated about 3 months. I hadn't got to see my kids, it was a small moment of weakness and as you can see, it was short lived and I was back to my senses. I have a lot of things in my life. My life is so much different now than it was then. A whole year has passed since then. I'm growing, I'm getting stronger. I'm still me, I'm still Brandon, but so much has changed. You just can't judge somebody off of one particular instance. And they didn't. Survivor gave me a chance to play again after being such a little girl last time. But now, I've grown into my own, I know who I am. I was a hero one time, a villain the next. You find the happy medium, you've got the Sole Survivor.
So you're now talking about wanting to play Survivor again with Russell? If you never were asked back to play, would that be a disappointment and would you then be happy with your Survivor legacy as it stands?
Yeah, I'm happy with it already. It's been cool, it's been great. But I'd really like that shot, man. Look, we're the only two family members to ever play Survivor. If we never get to play it would be my fault and it would be very disappointing. The only thing I could see them doing is not allowing me to play because they think I'm going to be physical with someone. That's not the case. That's not my nature. I think production knows that. So it's really in their hands. Whether he thinks he can beat me or not, that's a different story. That's for later. It would be an honor to play with my family. If you've noticed, we talk about our family a lot. Hantz, Hantz, Hantz. That's a pride thing. It would be an honor to play again and to play at the same time? Do you realize how intense this family would be? It would be so much pride out there, who would go further. I get goosebumps thinking about it. It's not about playing with other people or playing again. I just want to compete against him. If nobody else was out there and it was just me and him, for 39 days, competing in a series of challenges, that'd be fine too. It's just the pride of who would go further, period.
Also, make sure you check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, Survivor Fever.